A. Contributions creating appearance of impropriety.
Candidates for judicial office in both partisan and retention elections shall refrain from campaign fund-raising activity which has the appearance of impropriety, and shall not accept any contribution that creates an appearance of impropriety.
Subject to the restrictions of this rule, candidates in both partisan and retention elections for judicial office may solicit contributions for their own campaigns, but shall not solicit funds for any other political campaign, or for any candidate for any other office. Judicial candidates may run for election as part of a slate of judicial candidates and may participate in joint fund-raising events with other judicial candidates.
Candidates in both partisan and retention elections shall establish committees of one or more responsible persons to conduct campaigns for the candidate using media advertisements, brochures, mailings, candidate forums and other means not prohibited by law or these rules. Campaign committees may solicit and accept reasonable campaign contributions, and obtain public statements of support in behalf of the candidate, subject to the restrictions of these rules. All campaign contributions shall be paid or turned over to the campaign committee, and shall be managed and disbursed by the committee. A candidate shall not use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the candidate or others.
Candidates in partisan elections for judicial office who have a campaign fund, but who are unopposed or become unopposed in the campaign, shall return all unused and uncommitted campaign funds pro rata to the contributors of the funds, or donate the funds to a charitable organization, or to the State of New Mexico, as the candidate may choose, with disbursement of such funds to occur within thirty (30) days after the absence of opposition becomes known.
A candidate for judicial office in either a partisan or retention election who has unused campaign funds remaining after election, and after all expenses of the campaign and election have been paid, shall refund the remaining funds pro rata to the campaign contributors, or donate the funds to a charitable organization, or to the State of New Mexico, as the candidate may choose, within thirty (30) days after the date the election results are certified.
Candidates for judicial office, in both partisan and retention elections, shall not personally solicit or personally accept campaign contributions from any attorney, or from any litigant in a case pending before the candidate. Contributions from attorneys and litigants shall be made only to a campaign committee, and are subject to all the requirements of this rule. Campaign committees may solicit contributions from attorneys. Campaign committees shall not knowingly solicit a contribution from a litigant whose case is then pending before the candidate. Campaign committees shall not disclose to the judge or candidate the identity or source of any funds raised by the committee. If a case is pending before any candidate for the judicial office being contested, restrictions of this subparagraph apply to all candidates for that office.
[As amended, effective February 16, 1995.]
This rule restricts contributions for campaigns for judicial office to sources and amounts that do not create an appearance of impropriety. Candidates for judicial office may solicit contributions for their own campaigns, within the restrictions of this rule, but not for the campaigns for other candidates or offices. Candidates for election to judicial office are required to create campaign committees to solicit and accept contributions, to solicit public support, and to receive, manage and disburse all campaign contributions. Each candidate must instruct the campaign committee to solicit or accept only those contributions that are reasonable under the circumstances, and that meet the requirement of this rule.
Attorneys and litigants have the right as citizens to participate in the electoral process of public officers, including judges, and have the right to support and make contributions to candidates for judicial office. Therefore, campaign contributions by attorneys and litigants are permitted, within the restrictions of this rule. However, campaign contributions from litigants with cases pending before any candidate for the judicial office being contested may not be knowingly solicited or accepted by any candidate for that office, or that candidate's campaign committee.
Campaign committees established under this rule should attempt to manage campaign finances responsibly, avoiding deficits that may necessitate post-election fund-raising.
The 1995 amendment, effective February 16, 1995, rewrote the rule and added the commentary.